Dennis Wright – best known as Deano – is one of many Texans who say, “I wasn’t born here, but I got here as fast as I could.” This particular Texan got here from Jamaica. Ever since he arrived, Deano has been an enthusiastic ambassador for the Second Amendment who usually carries openly. We got a chance to hear his story firsthand: topics include the importance of the Second Amendment, the experience of CWB (“carrying while black”), and what it really means to love America. Enjoy!
You have an interesting background. How did you end up in Texas?
I was born in Jamaica and I came to Texas in 2002. I chose to come here because of the gun laws. I believe in the right to protect yourself: if you’re legally able to carry a firearm, you should do so. A lot more people would be alive today if they could exercise their Second Amendment rights, and I firmly believe that we should do that, as long as we’re legally able.
Also, when I was growing up, I used to watch TV, and I saw a lot of ‘cowboy and Indian’ movies about Texas. I really wanted to come here! So, when I had a choice to go to school in Florida, California, or Texas, there was no question.
You’ve discussed some of your open carry experiences online in groups such as Texas Concealed Carry and Open Carry Texas. Looks like you’ve earned something of a reputation in Houston. Tell me about that.
I find that if I carry concealed, I don’t get a lot of questions. But open carry is how I’ve helped a lot of people who wanted to know where to get a license, where to shoot, and so on.
People of all races have approached me, Asian, White, Hispanic, asking for guidance. A lot of African-American men have approached me saying, “Thank you, thank you for standing tall and doing this for us.” A lot of people are afraid to do it because of the stigma that’s been attached to us.
Mostly, I give people information. I’ve had a few female Walmart employees ask me, “Do I need a license to have a gun in my car?” And I tell them, no, in Texas you only need that to carry on your person.
There’s a Filipino man who has a small store. I buy donuts from him every Saturday and Sunday. One day, he said, “Look, I have a gun at home, but I’ve never shot it.” So I said, “What gun is it? Or at least, what caliber is it?” He didn’t know. So, I looked at it, we bought some 9mm ammunition, I took him shooting, and he signed up to get his license right away. But before that, he didn’t know he could have his gun loaded at home and at his place of business without a license. This is an American citizen, a business owner, and he didn’t know this.
The managers of the stores I go to, and the employees and the workers have become used to seeing what a law-abiding citizen who is not a police officer looks like carrying a pistol. They see how I act, how I interact with people, and they say to me, “We feel so comfortable with you here.” I’ve even had someone say, “You left too early yesterday. There was a robbery right after you left!”
Once, I went to IHOP, and when I got my check, I saw there was a law enforcement discount on it. I went up to the counter and said, “I’m not a police officer.” The manager said, “But you have a gun.” I said, “Yes, but I’m not a police officer.” Well, the manager kept talking to me, and he said, “Look, if something happened here, would you help?” I said, absolutely, yes I would. So now, anytime I come, I get the discount. The same thing has happened in some other places.
It has been great. It’s a great feeling, even just offering advice, pointing people in the right direction, setting an example. I do things a certain way, I dress a certain way. It takes away the stigma, and that makes people see me as a protector, not a predator. These business owners welcome me and support my rights, and they get a customer for life.
You’re not always welcomed, though. How do you handle those situations?
I’ve been to places where people asked me, “Are you going to shoot the place up?”
I say, “No, I’m not here for that. If I’m here, you should feel safe. It means I’ve got your back. If I’m here, that means you’re covered.”
I also tell people, “If you see somebody dressed neatly, with a belt and a holster on his hip, that person bought that holster so he could put it on his hip. That means he’s a law-abiding citizen. Gangsters don’t buy holsters! They don’t use holsters. They put a gun in their pocket, and they buy the cheapest target practice ammunition to shoot people with.”
I was at another place where my wife likes to go shopping. A lady walked in, and I said, “Hi.” She said “Hi” with a look of fear on her face. I thought, okay. A few minutes later, police officers showed up, and I said “Where’s the robbery at?”
When they saw me, they were laughing. They said, “We know there won’t be any robbery here, because you’re here!”
I try to turn these stories into something positive, because you will not win anyone by shouting at them, telling them they’re stupid, or anything like that. But I have actually converted people.
You have? Really?
Yes. I’ve had quite a few guys who just kept hating on me online, and I talked to them. I kept my cool, and now they’re following me!
Some people look at my Facebook page and say, “Man, you’re from Jamaica, but you’re more American than anyone I know. It’s too much!” I say it’s never too much.
Once, I was talking to someone online about carrying a gun. I said, “I took an oath to support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States against all enemies.”
He said, “You’re not in the military! You’re lying!”
But in fact, when I became an American citizen, I took the Naturalization Oath of Allegiance to the United States of America, and that is exactly what it says. Some people don’t really mean it when they take it.
I took that oath, and I take it very seriously. That’s what being an American is. It doesn’t matter where you are; you are going to defend what is right, what is true, and you are going to defend equal rights and equal liberty for all.
In this country, everything is achievable, and until you stop breathing, whatever you want, you can achieve it. It’s amazing what you can do here by working hard.
Do you introduce people to guns?
Oh, yes! Anybody who wants to go shooting, I say, “Hey, I’ll take you right now!”
It’s really something when you can take someone who’s never shot a gun before, and you show them the basic principles, and they can shoot the same place twice. The look on their faces! There’s nothing like that.
What are your plans for the future?
My desire, really, is to go into law enforcement. Everybody who knows me knows this, and if everything works out as planned, that’s the way I’m going. Unfortunately, I’ve had a spouse who was not supportive of that dream. It’s very hard to be in a situation like that. But I’m on my way now. There’s also some activism I would like to do as well.
Why law enforcement?
Well, part of it is that my dad was a police officer in Jamaica. It’s a hard job. The laws are different there. People will just walk up to you and shoot. I have very, very high respect for anyone who serves. Military, law enforcement… there’s no ifs, ands, or buts about it. I will help in any way I can.
Okay, you know I have to ask: What do you carry and why?
I use a basic setup. I have a GLOCK 17. It’s basic, everyone uses it, and it works. It’s like a Toyota. I was a mechanic before and I actually have a degree in automotive technology, so I know those cars will run forever. All you have to do is change the oil. Same with GLOCKs.
When I was in Jamaica, and I was applying for my license over there in about 2001, it took a year to get your license. To do that, you went and trained with soldiers. They taught you how to shoot. Well, they gave me a GLOCK 19, which was a little too small for my hands. They said, “Run and shoot!”
So, I ran, and I shot at an eight-inch steel target. I hit it! I was so surprised! This was my first time shooting, and ever since then, I’ve had the name ‘GLOCK’ in my head. I’ve shot different guns, of course, but the GLOCK is what I use.
A lot of people have a gun they use when they go shooting and a different gun they carry. That’s not me. I shoot my Glock on the weekend, when I do IDPA, and all that. I have thousands of rounds through my gun.
If I had to do it all over again, I would’ve bought a Glock 34, which is what I helped my brother-in-law buy when he decided to get a gun. That gun is perfect right out of the box, from the factory.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
The one thing I would like to reiterate is that if you are a legal resident of Texas, if you want to exercise your Second Amendment right to legally carry a firearm, you don’t have to wait five years until you’re a citizen. Once you have your green card, and you have been a legal resident in the same place for six months, you can apply for your license to carry. Just carry your green card, carry your passport, and you’re fine. You do not have to wait. A lot of people don’t know that.